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Monday 10 Jun 2024
Jonny Evans out of Andorra game

Northern Ireland captain Jonny Evans has returned home and will not feature in tomorrow’s friendly against Andorra, it has emerged.

Evans did not travel with the team from Mallorca yesterday as they jetted back to their training base in mainland Spain to prepare for the second of their two friendlies on Spanish soil this month.

Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill said Evans had some injury niggles during the regular season and he felt it was unrealistic to expect him to play another match after he was on the pitch for 90-plus minutes against Spain in Palma on Saturday.

Providing a squad update, he also revealed the only injury concern in the group is an issue with goalkeeper Conor Hazard. The keeper has an infection in his leg and O’Neill said he hoped it will settle down in the next 24 hours.

Evans’ departure means his defensive partner Daniel Ballard will take the armband. He will lead the team out for the first time when Northern Ireland take on Andorra at Estadio Nueva Condomina in Murcia.

The Northern Ireland boss expects his players to have a lot more possession against Andorra than they had during the 5-1 defeat to the Spanish in the Balearic Islands.

He pointed out: “People think we set up sometimes not to have possession but when you play the likes of Spain they just do not give the ball to you. It would be lovely to have 60% possession against Spain but we know that’s not going to be the case.

“This game is different because we know there is an expectation there obviously. We have to go in and play with confidence. We have to play quickly. We don’t want the game to be slow and pedestrian.

“We can make it a frustrating night for ourselves but it’s important that we don’t do that.”

He also revealed he will be freshening things up and making some changes to the team.

And he added: “We have got 22 outfield players in the squad. Ideally we would like to try to get everyone game time but that might not be possible on this trip, but we do want to use the squad as much as possible. The important thing is the performance and the result.”

The squad trained at their training base this evening - some of the players have been in camp for 12 days - as O’Neill and his coaching staff finalised their game plan for the encounter with the Andorrans.

Northern Ireland are currently ranked 73rd in the world compared to Andorra in 164th place.

Tomorrow’s game kicks off at 19.45 BST. It is being shown live - and free of charge - by Premier Sports on YouTube from 19.35 via the following link: